Tommy Fleetwood latest star to be confirmed for Scottish Open at Gullane

Tommy Fleetwood came agonisingly close to winning the US Open
Tommy Fleetwood came agonisingly close to winning the US Open
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Gullane has already been hit by ‘Storm Hector’ and now the East Lothian venue is bracing itself for ‘Storm Tommy’ as the big names keep on coming for next month’s Scottish Open.

Five of the world’s top 20 have now been confirmed for the $7 million Rolex Series event after Fleetwood joined Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Hideki Matsuyama in the line-up.

World No.3 Rose, the 2014 winner, is set to be the highest-ranked player in the star-studded field on July 12-15, followed by Fowler (No.8), Fleetwood (No.10), Stenson (No.14) and Matsuyama (No.12).

It will be Fleetwood’s sixth appearance in the event, having recorded his best finish when claiming tenth spot behind Fowler at Gullane in 2015.

The Englishman won the Race to Dubai last year and came close to landing his first major when closing with a record-equalling 63 to finish a shot behind Brooks Koepka in the US Open at Shinnecock Hills last Sunday.

“There have been a lot of positives from this season so far and I’m looking forward to an exciting summer, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open a key part of it,” said Fleetwood.

“It’s always an enjoyable week, and the Scottish golf fans create a fantastic atmosphere but it’s also a great opportunity to prepare for The Open. After coming so close in the US last week, I am more determined than ever to go one better in a major championship, so I’m looking forward to what I hope will be two good weeks on the links in July.”

It will be Matsuyama’s first Scottish Open appearance and his presence on the East Lothian coast is another big boost for organisers. The 26-year-old has won two WGCs in recent years, including a five-shot success in the Bridgestone Invitational last summer, and has been widely tipped to become Japan’s first men’s major winner.

The Scottish Open, of course, fell to India’s Jeev Milkha Singh at Castle Stuart in 2012 and Matsuyama won’t be the only player from the Far East in with a shout of emulating that feat at Gullane.

Also set to be in the field are Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat and China’s Haotong Li, both of whom have produced eye-catching performances on links courses in recent seasons.

Aphibarnrat won the inaugural Saltire Energy Paul Lawrie Match Play at Murcar Links in 2015 while Li closed with a stunning 63 as he finished third behind Jordan Spieth in The Open last year at Birkdale.

Others definitely confirmed include defending champion Rafa Cabrera Bello, American Matt Kuchar, English duo Ian Poulter and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston and Ryder Cup hopeful Tyrrell Hatton.

Preparations for the event were disrupted as Storm Hector wreaked havoc across Central Scotland last Thursday. A video of one of the temporary structures that was in the process of being built being pulled up by the wind and then being destroyed as it was blown away went viral.

Other structures were also damaged but everything will be in place as planned, with the Gullane club championships taking place on schedule last weekend.

“Just a few wee chunks out of the 17th tee, which isn’t getting used,” reported course manager Stewart Duff of the damage caused by the marquee blowing away by a 66mph gust.

• Fans can buy Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open tickets from just £15 at www.asiscottishopen.com